City leaders in Austin, Texas have found a “creative” way to skirt a new state law that prohibits them from giving tax dollars to abortion providers.
Four city council members recently announced plans to set aside $150,000 in the city budget for pro-abortion groups that do not provide abortions but do provide transportation, hotel rooms, counseling and other services to help women get them, the Austin Monitor reports.
“I have not read the amendment to the city of Austin’s budget yet, but on its face, it defiantly violates the spirit of Senate Bill 22, if not an outright violation against the law,” said state Sen. Donna Campbell in reaction to the news. “I will be working with the attorney general’s office on this issue.”
Campbell and other lawmakers passed the law earlier this year to ensure that no taxpayer funding directly or indirectly pays for unborn babies’ abortion deaths in Texas. Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, the law prohibits local governments from funding or contracting with abortion providers and their affiliates.
It is just one of the many efforts Texas lawmakers have taken in recent years to stop taxpayer funding of the abortion industry. But it appears the Austin City Council may be trying to exploit a loophole in the law.
“In Austin, we believe and announce that everyone has a right to healthcare,” Austin City Council member Greg Casar said Monday during a news conference, Fox News 7 reports. “We believe and announce that abortion is healthcare and we refuse to back down on protecting our continuance basic rights.”
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Here’s more from the Austin Monitor:
Four Austin City Council members want the city to help low-income women obtain abortions – without the city actually paying for the procedure.
At the urging of local reproductive rights groups, Austin city leaders are working to set aside up to $150,000 for groups that provide transportation, lodging, child care and counseling to women seeking abortions. The budget measure, which is supported by Council members Paige Ellis, Delia Garza, Leslie Pool and Greg Casar, is a city response to state laws that curb access to abortion.
“We have seen how this right has been chipped away at, from waiting periods to sonogram bills to all kinds of barriers being placed in front of women who are simply seeking an option that is still a constitutional right in this country,” said Mayor Pro Tem Garza.
The pro-abortion groups lobbying for the funds include NARAL Texas and the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equality. They argued that the budget measure does not violate the new law because the funding would not go to groups that provide abortions, only ones that help women get them, according to the report.
Garza described the budget measure as a “creative” way to get around the new law.
“The city has to find creative ways to help vulnerable communities in our city, and I see this as just another way,” she said.
Texas Right to Life said the council members crafted the policy just to thumb their noses at pro-lifers who are working to protect unborn babies from abortion.
“This grotesque news is another example of the abortion industry exploiting taxpayers to profit off vulnerable women and kill preborn children,” the pro-life group said in a statement.
Nicole Hudgens, policy director for the pro-life group Texas Values, urged local taxpayers to voice their concerns to the council.
“Clearly Austin is trying to circumvent the law and find different ways to kill children,” she told reporters. “We think that’s appalling, and if they really want to help women and children, they need to lower their property taxes and focus on things like that.”
The council is expected to vote on the budget in September.
ACTION: Contact the Austin City Council.